(Albright cites success of trip to explain issue) (770)

By Judy Aita

USIA United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The United States has won support from a majority of U.N.

Security Council members for its position that the sanctions regime on

Iraq, including the oil embargo, should remain in place until Baghdad

complies with all relevant council resolutions, U.S. Ambassador Madeleine

Albright said March 6.

At a press conference at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Albright

said she was pleased with the results of the recent trip she undertook at

the request of President Clinton to ensure that the sanctions regime in

place since the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait would be sustained during

upcoming sanctions reviews in March and April.

Russia and France have been pressing the council to set a date for lifting

the oil embargo after the U.N. Special Commission overseeing the

destruction of Iraqi weapons (UNSCOM) certifies that the long-term

monitoring regime is fully operational.  That certification is expected

later this year.

Citing developments in Iraq to support the U.S. case for concern over Iraq's

intentions if the oil embargo is lifted and Baghdad again has oil revenues,

Albright discussed new photographs of a rebuilt Iraqi chemical factory and

two major ballistic missile factories, photographs previously shown to the

council depicting lavish homes and palaces of top Iraqi officials, and

photographs of Iraqi military units equipped with stolen Kuwaiti weapons.

What concerns the United States, she said, is that the Iraqis "have been

talking about having scarce resources, saying that they cannot afford to

feed their people and at the same time we have photographic evidence that

they have rebuilt these facilities that are for the production of chemical


"The intention of the Iraqis is under question given the fact that they have

rebuilt these facilities at a time they are saying that they can't afford

to do things for their own people," the ambassador said.  "So it's the

intent that we are concerned about."


If the oil embargo is lifted and Iraq expels the U.N. inspectors now

assigned to the long-term monitoring program, the United States has

estimated that, given the current status of the rebuilt facilities, Iraq

could be manufacturing ballistic missiles in one year and could resume full

production of chemical weapons in two years.

"What we need to do is assure ourselves of the intentions of the Iraqi

regime, and we don't awful lot of latitude here to allow for

mistakes," Albright said.

"A regime that in the past has had chemical, biological as well as nuclear

weapons (and) is in fact rebuilding facilities does not get the benefit of

the doubt from us," she said.

Asked if the United States is prepared to use its veto power in the council

to stop the lifting of sanctions, Albright stressed that after her

consultations she does not believe that such an action would be necessary.

The ambassador explained that in the past months there had been "some

ambiguity" in the positions of some council members, along with five new

members joining the council in January.  Therefore, the Clinton

administration believed that her trip was needed "in order to lock in a


"It is my belief that this trip has, in fact, locked in such a majority and

therefore it would seem to be unnecessary to use a veto; however, if that

is necessary we are prepared to do so," Albright said.

"But given the kind of support...from the highest levels of the governments

where I was, I truly believe that we have a majority (and) that a veto

would not be necessary...for the foreseeable future," she said.

Between February 23 and March 4 Albright met with British Foreign Secretary

Douglas Hurd, Sultan Qaboos of Oman, Czech President Vaclav Havel, Italian

Prime Minister Lamberto Dini, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, and

Honduran President Roberto Reina.  She also spoke by phone with Argentinian

President Carlos Menem and the foreign ministers of Botswana and Rwanda.

Over the past year U.S. officials have said that the U.S. position on

lifting the Iraqi sanctions is based on a judgment call the United States

believes the council should make about the Baghdad regime's intentions and

behavior across the board, including deployment of forces in the south last

October, refusal to return Kuwaiti equipment, refusal to provide an

accounting of Kuwaiti prisoners, refusal to renounce terrorism, and refusal

to stop repression against the Kurds in the north and the Shia in the